297: The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward — reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

(Michael Crichton, “Why Speculate?,” International Leadership Forum, April 26, 2002).

297: The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

296: Um Artista.

Wolfe abaixou a lupa e suspirou. Eu sabia que minhas perguntas o constrangiam, mas, além da curiosidade, havia uma questão profissional. Ele nunca parecia perceber que, embora eu não tivesse nenhuma dificuldade para acreditar piamente que ele nunca nos induziria a erro, poderia fazer minha parte com um pouco mais de inteligência se soubesse como as coisas estavam funcionando. Não acredito que ele alguma vez tomasse a iniciativa de se abrir, fosse o caso grande ou pequeno, se eu não o cutucasse com certa insistência.

Ele suspirou. “Archie, será que preciso lembrá-lo novamente da reação provável de Velázquez se você lhe pedisse para explicar por que a mão de Esopo estava oculta dentro da túnica, e não pendente ao longo de seu corpo? Será que preciso demonstrar mais uma vez que, embora seja aceitável pedir ao cientista que o conduza, passo a passo, ao ponto de partida de suas descobertas, um pedido semelhante ao artista não faz sentido, visto que ele, assim como a cotovia ou a águia, não percorreu caminho nenhum? Será que você precisa ser mais uma vez informado de que eu sou um artista?”

(Rex Stout, Serpente. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2000, pp. 67–68).

296: Um Artista.

294: A Special Form of Conspicuous Consumption.

PC-brigadiers behave exactly like owners of a positional good who panic because wider availability of that good threatens their social status. The PC brigade has been highly successful in creating new social taboos, but their success is their very problem. Moral superiority is a prime example of a positional good, because we cannot all be morally superior to each other. Once you have successfully exorcised a word or an opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from others now? You need new things to be outraged about, new ways of asserting your imagined moral superiority.

You can do that by insisting that the no real progress has been made, that your issue is as real as ever, and just manifests itself in more subtle ways. Many people may imitate your rhetoric, but they do not really mean it, they are faking it, they are poseurs […] You can also hugely inflate the definition of an existing offense […] Or you can move on to discover new things to label ‘offensive’, new victim groups, new patterns of dominance and oppression.

If I am right, then Political Correctness is really just a special form of conspicuous consumption, leading to a zero-sum status race. The fact that PC fans are still constantly outraged, despite the fact that PC has never been so pervasive, would then just be a special form of the Easterlin Paradox.

(Kristian Niemietz, “The Economics of Political Correctness,” Institute of Economic Affairs, April 30, 2014).

294: A Special Form of Conspicuous Consumption.